JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Jacksonville’s defense turned in a performance good enough to win against the Los Angeles Rams.
The unit allowed 249 yards, 12 first downs and 10 points in a 27-17 loss Sunday. The defenders made it clear Monday they expect more from everyone else and won’t let teammates off the hook for mistakes.
Coach Doug Marrone welcomed the accountability.
“That’s the type of culture or that’s the type of team that we want, and we’re working extremely hard to do that,” Marrone said. “When we get everybody operating at 100 percent and we go on that football field, I feel really good about this team.
“When we make mistakes or don’t take advantage of opportunities, we put ourselves in a bind that I’m not saying we can’t work our way out of, but it becomes difficult and it becomes a challenge for us.”
The daunting task against the Rams was overcoming five special teams errors that cost Jacksonville 23 points — six for and 17 against.
“Special teams got to make plays,” linebacker Telvin Smith said. “Not going to act like that wasn’t a factor in the game.”
It was the factor.
The Jaguars (3-3) missed two chances to tackle Pharoh Cooper on the opening kickoff , allowing Cooper to dance down the sideline for 103 yards. Cooper spun away from Jarrod Wilson and ran away from Peyton Thompson on the play. Brad Nortman had a 16-yard punt that the Rams turned into a field goal without pickup up a first down. And Nortman had another one blocked and returned for a score .
Jason Myers also hooked two 54-yard field-goal attempts .
Throw in Blake Bortles’ fourth-quarter interception with Jacksonville in field-goal range, and the team with the smallest margin for error was left with barely a sliver of hope.
“Everybody knows it’s not only their job but their accountability to the next man to do these things,” Smith said. “And when it’s talked about or said, it’s not we’re pointing the finger, it’s that you need to do this. Every man on this team is being held accountable.”
Marrone said the staff is evaluating every aspect of special teams, including Myers. The third-year pro has missed 15 field goals and 12 extra points in 38 career games.
Jacksonville worked out free-agent kickers Dan Carpenter and Patrick Murray during the preseason, but decided to stick with Myers.
“I don’t want to be one to sit here and say, ‘Shoot, those things happen.’ They shouldn’t happen, and we understand that,” Marrone said. “At the end of the day, it’s still a performance business and you got to perform on Sunday. That’s the main thing.”
The defense has done its job for the most part.
The unit was dominant in lopsided victories against Houston, Baltimore and Pittsburgh, and did enough against the New York Jets and the Rams for Jacksonville to be a one-loss team. The Jags could have had their fifth defensive touchdown of the season had the officials not blown a clear fumble in the third quarter. Marrone challenged and got the call reversed, but the ball went back to the spot of the recovery.
“That definitely was a big turning point,” Smith said. “There’s no reason to go back and forth about it. We got the ball back in that situation. From there, it’s on us and we didn’t do enough with it. That’s it.”
The Jaguars haven’t done enough all season really. They’ve followed every win with a loss and every loss with a win, a trend they hope to continue Sunday at Indianapolis.
“It’s still early, but guys are getting frustrated ’cause we should be winning games,” defensive tackle Malik Jackson said. “We shouldn’t be losing. (These) are teams we should be beating. We have to start getting over the hump of being a dominant team, a consistent team. That’s what guys are getting frustrated for.”